If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship — be it with a partner, a friend, or a family member — you’ve likely been manipulated, and that probably wasn’t even the worst part.
The gaslighting, judgment, and other forms of abuse used to manipulate you and manage the fallout can cause lasting trauma.
Trauma specialist Annalie Howling took to Instagram to remind people that they didn’t deserve these 6 toxic behaviors that come along with manipulation — and they certainly didn’t deserve the manipulation in the first place.
If you’ve slowly been waking up to the realization that the trauma from a manipulative relationship cut deeper than you thought, you’re not alone — and these reminders are for you.
6 Toxic Things You Didn’t Deserve While Being Manipulated
1. Guilt for speaking up (or for the time it took to do so)
When you expressed your concerns in a toxic relationship, you may have been met with dismissal. This is a common experience, and it sucks because it takes significant courage to share what’s on your mind.
This can lead to hesitating to voice your real feelings.
Perhaps your partner asked what was on your mind and you just couldn’t tell them because of the fear of being dismissed again.
If you’re dealing with this, remember it’s not your fault; you didn’t deserve this. With time, you can reclaim your voice and step back into your truth.
According to Select Psychology, commitments such as setting boundaries, politely saying no, reflecting on overcommitment in relationships, knowing when to step back, maintaining assertiveness in body and tone, and handling interruptions by asserting yourself, can all help in learning how to stand up for yourself.
2. Judgement for admitting your vulnerabilities
Opening up about your vulnerabilities is tough and facing judgment instead of compassion, is even more disheartening. The people surrounding you should provide a safe space, and it’s hurtful when their judgment replaces their understanding.
Although you can’t change what happened, you can take active steps to create a brighter and better future.
According to Care Counseling, ways you can create a safe space for yourself include:
- Choosing a physical environment that brings about comfort and peace
- Setting boundaries.
- Disconnecting from technology.
- Developing rituals.
- Practicing mindfulness.
- Creating a mental safe haven.
3. Constant effort to make you look bad, to make them look good
If you’ve ever been put in a situation where a loved one attempted to tarnish your image, it probably left your self-esteem in shambles and trust issues very much alive. Yet, it’s important to understand that their insecurity isn’t your responsibility.
According to the Association of Psychological Science, “People may worsen other’s moods for their own personal gain.”
Even though this is hurtful, try to remember it has everything to do with the person who’s trying to bring you down, and nothing to do with you.
Connecting to others who have also experienced something similar can help remind you of this.
4. The smear campaign that followed a narrative you could not control
Have you ever heard a rumor about yourself that had you scratching your head in confusion? I know I have!
Despite what Lizzo says, all the rumors aren’t always true, and oftentimes rumors can be extremely damaging, quickly escalating into a smear campaign and ruining someone’s reputation.
What’s worse, having a loved one behind those rumors can be both heartbreaking and earth-shattering.
Harvard Researcher Shahida Arabi states that the root of a smear campaign is often character assignation. She goes on to say that smearing someone’s name can be due to feeling threatened or jealous.
You see, people do this because they want to unsettle you. It’s important to protect yourself and stand firm in who you are.
When confronting a toxic person, be sure to ask them questions and not accuse them directly.
Arabia states that this is so you can get a clear reaction of where they are at, in their current state of mind. In more severe circumstances, she advises people to document the gaslighting and to cut ties as soon as possible!
5. Confusion that followed as you started to find yourself after the conditioning
Psychologist Josh Klapow states, “There is such a dependency that is created in a toxic relationship that once you have escaped, it’s common to wonder—did I do the right thing?”
Leaving any toxic relationship often invites confusion and guilt.
Klapow suggests giving yourself time to adjust and process. Eventually, you will understand that moving on was the best choice.
6. Having to find your own home for your feelings when everything you thought you had known was exposed as the worst kind of fairytale
Finding out that a loved one put you through a nightmare, is incredibly painful and gut-wrenching. You’ve probably asked yourself a billion times “What did I do to deserve this?”
Clinical psychologist Hayley Watson explores overcoming the blame trap and empowering yourself.
She writes, “When we are blaming someone else for how we feel, what we are actually saying is I’m helpless in this situation and therefore I am fundamentally flawed.”
She goes on to say that nobody can diminish your self-worth and make you feel less than. You are powerful and worthy always.
Watson advises that individuals who are going through this should acknowledge their pain and emotions. Additionally, she highlights the significance of acknowledging that others cannot strip us of our power.
In the end, it’s crucial to realize that we cannot start the journey of finding a home for our feelings if we have not yet processed our emotions and healed our self-worth.
By acknowledging the past, we pave the way for a better future. Though the path to healing is difficult, it’s crucial to remember that you are not alone on this journey.
Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career and family topics.